The Who

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A summer evening – albeit a chilly evening – was spent in the grounds of Kenwood House, Hampstead Heath, London in the company of Alfie Boe and his fabulous band, not to mention fabulous friends in the form of Linda A, Linda W, Jayne, Cecelia, Roberta, Annie, Pauline, Jean and Claire.

Alfie’s set was almost the same as at Kelvingrove and Fleetwood, with a couple of differences and at least one new addition, to the encore.  Led Zeppelin’s Going To California was a new song, and Linda W was in seventh heaven (listen carefully and you can hear her gasps of delight at the beginning):

Alfie was, as usual, in fine voice and had all the energy you might expect from a performer at the top of his game and clearly having the time of his life.  I seem to write that sentence fairly often these days, but with every new concert, he just gets better and better and to me, it seems that he never takes his good fortune for granted, which unfolds as seemingly relentless energy on stage.  Just watching the energy on stage exhausts the audience, never mind Alfie himself!

Highlights were The Way You Look Tonight from his forthcoming album, Bring Him Home (very emotional this time), The Who section, particularly Pinball Wizard and the country section.  I love all those songs and having only discovered Wagon Wheel last year, via Alfie, I especially love the joy the band bring to that song.  The songs from Together and Together Again had the crowd singing along and of course we celebrated Ball and Boe’s double BRIT win too. However, the undoubted stand out song was Bring Me Sunshine; Alfie was joined on stage by the children of the Rays of Sunshine choir and they were magnificent:

They were all wonderful and I’m pleased to say that the audience were able to help bring joy and laughter into the lives of seriously ill children by giving to the collecting buckets available.  If anyone wasn’t able to give at the concert and would like to help, click here to donate.

I’m happy to say that I saw Alfie before the show and he obligingly signed some more competition bits so make sure you’re a subscriber to get first dibs on entries – coming soon!

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Wow, what a night we had in Fleetwood on Saturday! Before I’ve even started this review, I’ve run out of superlatives – Alfie was on phenomenal form, holding the audience in the palm of his hand from beginning to end and basking in the love shown to him by the town, love that was clearly reciprocated.

Throwing in songs that spanned Alfie’s most recent albums (Serenata, Trust, Classic Quad, Together and Together Again) and a selection of songs Alfie clearly loves, this felt like a very personal set list – there wasn’t one song that didn’t work.  Opening with Sing, Sing, Sing from his new swing album (November 2018), Alfie demonstrated a mastery of yet another musical genre:

Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead was just one of several new songs we heard, along with Ophelia, Wichita Lineman, Islands in the Stream, with backing singer Tor (loved this one), Queen’s Spread Your Wings and Pinball Wizard / See Me Feel Me medley from The Who’s Tommy.  Would have liked to hear Pinball Wizard all the way through – even better, I’d like to hear Alfie singing this with the Kaiser Chiefs, who, to my mind, do the best live cover of this. Click here to see more videos from Linda Wellington and Annie Lloyd.

As always, the band were amazing, with Murray, Dan and Tonksy being joined by Pete on guitar and Nigel on keyboards.  Backing singer Tor has also been with Alfie before, on the Together tours and the brass section were magnificent:

The addition of Pete seems to indicate that playing guitar for Alfie necessitates a lot of hair (Dan on bass needs to step into line) but both Pete and Nigel slotted right into the band whilst also bringing something new into the dynamic.  With only these few concerts lined up, let’s hope that we see more of Pete and Nigel in the future.

The song choice was weighted heavily in favour of those that could be danced to but of course Alfie found time for Bring Him Home, or Bring It Home as he said a lot of people call it (I once sat next to someone , in Blackpool of all places, who said I think he sings a song called Take Me Home – perhaps she was wishfully thinking!), preceded by the song he sang on Britain’s Got Talent, The Way You Look Tonight.  Both were outstanding, accompanied by one of the brass section and Murray, respectively; Alfie stayed in the Bring Him Home bubble a lot longer than usual and was clearly moved when he saw the audience reaction.

To the crowd’s evident delight, the second half started with Alfie and the band taking to the stage with the new Fleetwood Town FC strip, personalised in each case and as he did throughout the evening, did a shout out for Trinity Hospice, who were out in force with collection buckets.  Alfie is their patron and if you weren’t able to attend the concert itself, click here to see the excellent work they do.

When this homecoming concert was first announced it was clear that it would be a concert like no other and not to be missed.  Alfie singing in Blackpool is something special but Fleetwood is in a category of it’s own.  Throw in Jimmy watching from his upstairs window and Alfie’s Aunty Eileen almost stealing the show and you have the perfect evening.  Alfie thought so, asking “why haven’t I done this before, it’s great” and declaring that he definitely wanted to return and do it again – the roar of appreciation as he said this indicates there’ll be a ready and willing audience.  He was having such a great time, when it was finished (latest concert ever at 11.30!) he then popped into Highbury social club for a dance!  He’s come a long way from the Marine Hall.

On a personal note, it was lovely to see so many fans and special thanks to those who found time to say hello, much appreciated.  Wouldn’t have been the same without seeing so many friends, Paul and Pauline, Jennifer, Donna, Chelley, Linda Evans, Sonia, Pat and Janet, Carole, Karen, Jean, Nancy, Marj, Andrea, Carole and Eric, Jayne and Linda W (thanks for the videos).  Sue, Pauline, Roberta, Annie, Angie and Cecelia, not to mention my bestie Linda A made a fabulous night even more special with a great after party that went on into the wee small hours!

Before I go, can I ask a favour for Alfie and Michael?  They have made it to the shortlist for Album of the Year at the Classic BRITS and need your vote – please click here (UK voters only) to vote – thank you!

 

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Since I first heard Alfie Boe sing two Classic Quadrophenia (CQ) songs on his UK Winter Tour, I have been keenly anticipating hearing the whole album live on stage.  The album is tremendous, made more so by the live sounding vocals from Alfie.  Alfie’s set list on his current mini UK tour has included more and more CQ songs and so the anticipation leading up to the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall last night has been building to explosive levels.

The announcement of a classical version of a much loved rock work is always going to cause some fans to scratch their heads and wonder why someone is messing with perfection.  CQ was no exception and many Who fans took to social media in their thousands to bemoan this project, despite not having heard a note.  As the album release date got nearer and the promotional schedule ramped up, those voices of dissent became less and less, dwindling to a trickle when the album was released and the full glory of Rachel Fuller’s orchestration was heard in its entirety for the first time.  After last night’s world premiere of the live staging, the rapturous audience reaction leads me to think that the Who fans were completely won over (at least those who were there).

The audience was mainly a mixture of Who fans and Alfie Boe fans – it was easy to spot the Who fans as they stood up en masse when Pete Townshend first came on to the stage – and right from the start, there was a buzz and energy between performers and audience.  Robert Ziegler conducted the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra with passion (even donning a parka for the finale) and the London Oriana Choir was wonderful but the night belonged to Alfie, being rarely off stage.  Hearing the songs on tour with a small band and a small orchestra is magnificent but in no way prepared me for hearing Alfie’s sublime voice in harmony with a full orchestra.  Just think of every superlative you’ve ever heard and you’ll be half way there.  Pete Townshend was great (better than I expected if I’m honest), Phil Daniels’s characterisation of the Dad role was brilliant but the biggest surprise for me was how good Billy Idol was.  I admit I’m not very aware of Billy’s music and if I admitted to concerns about the show beforehand, Billy Idol’s part concerned me most.  I needn’t have worried as his voice perfectly suited the material and blended superbly with Alfie.  Their shared moments on stage were amongst the highlights – they were obviously having the time of their lives.

When I reviewed the album a few weeks ago, I said that I loved all the songs, there wasn’t one that I wanted to skip.  Having seen the show live, I stand by that; the music flowed effortlessly and the vocal harmonies were joyful to hear but the star of the show, musically, comes right at the end.  Love Reign O’er Me has become a staple of Alfie’s live shows and amongst his fans this was the song that caused the most excitement.  He didn’t disappoint.  The power of the orchestra complemented exactly the powerhouse vocal performance Alfie gave, leading to the spine tingling  last note when the entire audience rose to its feet as one…and stayed there for a good five to ten minutes (forgive me on this point, I wasn’t looking at my watch!) with rapturous applause throughout.

Numerous curtain calls followed and an encore with all the singers again brought the house down.  Rachel Fuller also received a fabulous welcome when she came to the stage and although all the performers (orchestra excepted) went of stage it was plain that the audience were not ready to see them go and they all trooped out again, Billy Idol minus his shirt.

Pete Townshend is taking the show to Vienna, Cologne and Munich (click here for dates) plus another unconfirmed date and those who see the show there are in for a treat.  For those not so lucky, Sky Arts will be showing the performance tonight at 8pm – and anyone else needs to start praying for a DVD release at the end of the year when all the live dates are over.

Classic Quadrophenia is available here:

classic quad

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The much anticipated video for Classic Quadrophenia’s Love Reign O’er Me is finally here!

Great video from the Brighton beach front shoot a few weeks ago – it must have been perishing down there then!  And a nice touch to see Phil Daniels as he is now at the end of the video; if you don’t know by now, he’s playing Jimmy’s Dad this time around, having been Jimmy for the film.

We should also remember that this is Pete Townshend’s project and his name and that of The Who are all that are needed to sell this to the countless hordes that will buy the album, so I wouldn’t worry about Alfie Boe’s name not being visible.  Hopefully, those astounding vocals will ensure a whole new audience find out more about him post June 8th.

Classic Quadrophenia is now available for pre-order:

classic quad

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Part of the appeal and fun of being an Alfie Boe fan is the friends I’ve made along the way…and there a lot of you out there that I would never have known had it not been for Alfie. Chatting to one of my closest friends recently, we were struck by how much the music we listen to now has been influenced by Alfie and his musical choices.  Some of you will be amazed to hear that I do actually listen to other artists (oh alright, it’s not often!) but a lot of the music I’ve discovered in the last couple of years has been driven by Alfie’s musical train.  So the next logical step was to write about it!

Looking through my iPod I now have music from Led Zeppelin, Bonnie Raitt, The Clint Boon Experience, The D’Oyly Carte, Emilia Mitiku, Laura Wright, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, John Owen-Jones, Ramin Karimloo, Al Vosper.  For me, this diverse group of artists has only one thing in common: Alfie Boe introduced me to them.

Obviously some are a lot more well known than others (I can just imagine the gasp of horror from Linda W at my only really listening to Led Zeppelin in the last year or so) and although I was aware of them I never considered listening to them until Alfie sang their songs or worked with them.  This is certainly the case with The Who and Quadrophenia which I listened to for the first time two weeks ago in preparation for Alfie Boe and Quadrophenia – I can honestly say that I really liked it and have listened to some of it again…and I didn’t have to!  It goes without saying that I prefer Alfie’s take on I’m One and Love Reigns O’er Me.

Alfie’s well known saying “there’s only two types of music, good and bad” has obviously rubbed off on me or maybe I’m just more willing to embrace new music as I find myself not only listening to but buying music I had previously discarded as being “not my thing”.  This is definitely the case with Clint Boon; I was not a fan of the Inspiral Carpets and wasn’t particularly keen to listen to the Clint Boon Experience albums even though Alfie was featured.  Of course, when I did listen, I liked it (and not just for Alfie!).  As I write this, the thought occurs that super fans can sometimes be categorised by their willingness to go and do whatever their favourite artist asks or mentions…I leave that with you for later discussion.

One of the joys of my musical education with Alfie has been finding out about extremely talented musicians who I would almost certainly never have heard of otherwise.  These include Laura Wright and John Owen-Jones who I have had the pleasure of interviewing and the awesome Al Vosper, Emilia Mitiku and Michael Boe.  They all produce the sort of music I have always listened to but I am absolutely sure their work would have passed me by without Alfie.

As always, I would love to hear about your musical education with Alfie – what do you now listen to that you didn’t before, or perhaps you have been drawn back to something you haven’t listened to for years?  Leave me a comment in the box!

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs from the Storyteller tour, Jimi Hendrix’s Angel (thanks to Linda W for sharing):

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So, the promotion for Classic Quadrophenia has started…we saw Alfie on a scooter in Brighton a couple of weeks ago and now he’s been back in London buying a parka!

Alfie parka

Since Alfie’s been teasing us with Quadrophenia, I thought it was time we found out a bit more about the original – this is for fans for are not entirely familiar with The Who’s music which includes me, although I know a whole lot more than I did a week ago!  I have watched the movie, watched a live performance on youtube and listened to the original album a few times by now…and like most of the stuff Alfie has introduced me too, I like it!

Quadrophenia is the 6th studio album from The Who, composed entirely by Pete Townshend and was released in 1973 – a second rock opera, following Tommy.  A UK / US tour followed the release but was widely considered to be disastrous, being besieged by technical problems.  The non musical movie of Quadrophenia (the music formed the soundtrack only) was released in 1979 and featured Phil Daniels as Jimmy – he is to appear as Jimmy’s father in the Classic performance.  Other notable cast members included Sting, Toyah Willcox, Ray Winstone and Leslie Ash.

The album was re-mastered and re-released a couple of times after the initial release and the album as a live performance was revived in 1996 for an initial one off show in Hyde Park, London.  This was more a rock opera performance with cast members including Phil Daniels, Adrian Edmondson, Stephen Fry and (showing how times change) Gary Glitter.  The line up also included Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr) as the drummer; he has toured with them ever since.  This format was successful and a UK / US tour followed.

The surviving members of The Who, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, again resurrected Quadrophenia as a live performance in 2010 for a series of concerts for the Teenage Cancer Trust.  In this instance, they were joined by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Kasabian’s Tom Meighan.  Phil Daniels featured in a TCT concert last November, here he is singing Bell Boy; the video also features Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs:

Alfie and Sarah attended this concert too!

The most recent incarnation of Quadrophenia as a performance was the 2012/13 tour which had the feeling of a concert rather than a performance of a rock opera to it.  Keith Moon and Jon Entwistle both featured on video (Bell Boy and 5.15).  There are some youtube videos of this but they are of varying quality and not complete, probably due to copyright reasons.  I must admit that I was unaware of this recent touring history until this week and having now immersed myself in this music, I am even more keen to see the production of Classic Quadrophenia on 5 July.  It will be interesting to see and hear the orchestrated version featuring those sublime vocals – here is Alfie on his recent UK tour:

Thanks to Linda W for sharing.  Aside from Alfie as Jimmy, I’m also really interested to see Phil Daniels play the role of Jimmy’s father – nice to see some continuity in casting.  Twitter also mentioned that Alfie’s appearance on Sunday Night at the Palladium (ITV, 3 May) will feature Quadrophenia.

The album, from Deutsche Grammophon, will be released on 22 June so we’ll have plenty of time to familiarise ourselves with it before the concert!  I’m hoping for a DVD too!  The album is available to pre-order here:

classic quad

 

There are lots of videos of Alfie singing I’m One and Love Reign O’er Me from his recent UK tour – check out the thoughtsofjustafan Alfie Boe youtube page (there are some other artists featured on the Quadrophenia playlist too).

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Updated post – pre-sale is now open!!!!!  got my ticket already! – click here for tickets.

Alfie Boe will star in a concert version of Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall next July!  Not sure if this is the secret he hasn’t been allowed to tell us but how fantastic is this!

The tickets are on general sale on Friday 5th December – click here.

Quadrophenia is Pete Townshend’s 1973 rock opera and has been orchestrated by Rachel Fuller and performed by the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra and the London Oriana Choir – Alfie sings the part originally sung by Roger Daltrey.  Check out this teaser:

Can’t wait to get a ticket!

From time to time Alfie likes to surprise fans with new songs (Led Zeppelin’s Rock n’Roll springs to mind) and he again surprised us on Weekend Wogan this morning with a song from The Who.  Love Reign O’er Us was written by Pete Townshend for the 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia and has been a concert staple, on and off for years.

Alfie’s version (again introducing this fan at least, to something new) was breathtaking – gorgeous vocals.  Prior to that, he sang Volare, accompanied superbly by Murray Gould and Matt White, and also by Terry at one point!

Nice to hear Alfie again and great that we can see him on TV twice more this week – Alan Titchmarsh on Tuesday and QVC on Thursday.  Let’s hope there’s much more in the run up to the #AlfieBoeUKTour and #AlfieBoeSerenata.

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Alfie Boe’s Serenata can be pre-ordered below:

serenata